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The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

The Chocolate War (1974)

by Robert Cormier

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Chocolate War (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
“You see Carter, people are two things: greedy and cruel. So we have a perfect set-up here. The greed part - a kid pays a buck for a chance to win a hundred. Plus fifty boxes of chocolates. The cruel part - watching two guys hitting each other, maybe hurting each other, while they're safe in the bleachers. That's why it works, Carter, because we're all bastards.”

Trinity is the best college prep school in the area, it’s why kids choose to attend the private Catholic school. What the kids don’t choose is to defy The Vigils, a secret organization within the school with a hold on faculty and students alike. The Vigils hand out “assignments” to students to carry out that tend to shake up the already unstable environment of the school. These assignments, however, toe the line between inappropriately funny and cruelly unusual. And the students of the school don’t dare oppose orders due to a (un)healthy fear of some of the group’s more sadistic members. When the school’s annual chocolate sale comes around, freshman Jerry Renault takes his assignment a little far and must face the wrath of corrupt students and staff at Trinity.

Throughout the book, I was constantly reminded of the storyline in Cruel Intentions. The wide range of characters the author uses adds a depth to the story without convoluting it. At times, it would have been nice to have more of a background to some of the key players to gain a better understanding of the reasons behind their actions, but for the brevity of the novel the characterization seemed appropriate.

I surprised myself by actually really liking this book upon finishing it. The first 50 or so pages had me skeptical, but I became sucked into the story the farther along I got. There’s a deeply dark depth to this story that, as a reader, you don’t expect from the seemingly simple plot of a chocolate sale. Cormier provides us with an all too true insight into humanity, relevant to readers of any age.
( )
  nframke | Apr 30, 2019 |
Can't believe I never read this as a kid! Cormier is a damn good writer and his exploration of the battle between ultimate good and evil is brilliant. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
As a freshman at Trinity Catholic High School, Jerry Renault just wants to fit in. He tries out for the football team, hoping for acceptance, and pondering the quote on the poster in his locker everyday, "Do I dare disturb the universe?" However, lurking in the shadows is Archie Costello and the secret society, the Vigils, who run the school through Archie's intimidation. When the school's annual chocolate sale begins, and Brother Leon asks the Vigils for their support in the sale, they agree. Jerry, however, decides to defy the school, and the Vigils, refusing to sell the chocolates. According to Archie, his defiance needs punishment from the Vigils, punishment that will make Jerry never want to cross them again.

The Chocolate War is a novel that I've heard a lot about, being in the field of young adult literature, but one I've never gotten the chance to read until now. As one of the classics of young adult literature, I think it is important to see where the genre came from, and compare it to where it has come in the past 20 years or so. Overall, I thought it was a good piece of literature, with fleshed out characters and a plot that always kept me guessing, even certain parts were obvious. Cormier does a good job of capturing the peer pressure that so many people feel at this age through the character of Jerry, and though there might not be a secret society like the Vigils in every school, there is that one group of students that everyone is afraid of, the "in crowd." There was one issue that I had with the book, and it may stem from my study of LGBTQ inclusive literature in the past, but the part when Jerry is insulted by being called a "queer fairy." I know that this may stem from the time period that this was written in (the 70s), but it's things like this that help to perpetuate stereotypes. Aside from this fact, I thought that this was a good read, and definitely would prompt good discussion with others that have read it.

As for a classroom, this book could definitely be paired with another classic, or even used on its own in a classroom. Because of the complexity of the issues presented, and all of the philosophical questions presented, this novel would create good discussion among students. It's one of those novels that you want to discuss with others after you have read it, plus it is relatable to the majority of high school students. This is definitely a book to keep in mind when teaching young adult literature in the classroom. ( )
  Amanda7 | Oct 12, 2018 |
genius ( )
  AdrianaGarcia | Jul 10, 2018 |
Young Jerry Renault just wants to be a part of the school. He wants to be on the football team, make friends, and be one of the guys, but when an annual fundraiser comes around to sell chocolates, he is roped in my a secret society of boys that control the school behind the scenes.

Set in a fictional all boys Catholic school, the story follows this secret organization that manipulates the student body to the point of creating a mob against Jerry. Full of realistic high school characters and the teacher all students love to hate, Robert Cormier pushes the boundaries on young adult fiction earning his novel a place on the ALA's "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000-2009."

For more on The Chocolate War ( )
  CJ82487 | Mar 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Cormierprimary authorall editionscalculated
Flieger, RainerIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reitsma-Bakker, MoonjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taler, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They murdered him.
In bed once more, Jerry lay without moving, trying to summon sleep. Listening to his father's snores, he thought of how his father was actually sleeping his life away, sleeping even when he was awake, not really alive. And how about me? What was it the guy on the Common had said the other day, his chin resting on the Volkswagen like some grotesque John the Baptist? You're missing a lot of things in the world.
It was like a fart in his ear.
Do I dare disturb the universe?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A young adult novel set in a parochial school. Jerry Renault does not want to participate in the school's chocolate sales. The headmaster, who has reasons of his own to want the sale to be successful, calls in the school's gang and asks them to put pressure on Jerry to make him conform. The results are catastrophic.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375829873, Paperback)

Does Jerry Renault dare to disturb the universe? You wouldn't think that his refusal to sell chocolates during his school's fundraiser would create such a stir, but it does; it's as if the whole school comes apart at the seams. To some, Jerry is a hero, but to others, he becomes a scapegoat--a target for their pent-up hatred. And Jerry? He's just trying to stand up for what he believes, but perhaps there is no way for him to escape becoming a pawn in this game of control; students are pitted against other students, fighting for honor--or are they fighting for their lives? In 1974, author Robert Cormier dared to disturb our universe when this book was first published. And now, with a new introduction by the celebrated author, The Chocolate War stands ready to shock a new group of teen readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:41 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.

» see all 5 descriptions

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